Involuntary admission of young people to psychiatry peaks in Flanders

Juvenile court judges and youth psychiatrists are noticing a striking increase in young people being forcibly committed to psychiatric care in Flanders, De Standaard reported on Thursday.

Overall figures are not yet available, but numbers for the first six months of the year are rising in the cities of Ghent, Antwerp, Mechelen, Dendermonde, Oudenaarde and Turnhout.

This year, the juvenile court in Ghent recorded 37 compulsory admissions of minors in the first half of 2023, compared to 29 admissions for a whole year in 2022. The situation is similar in the cities of Dendermonde and Oudenaarde, De Standaard writes.

"These days, we even receive requests to admit children under 12"

The juvenile courts of Antwerp, Mechelen and Turnhout together counted 31 forced admissions of minors in the last six months. The total number reached 51 in 2022.

"Forced psychiatric admission is never a good solution for a young person. But sometimes it is the least bad solution," said Jan De Meulenaere, head of the department of child and adolescent psychiatry at Ghent University Hospital.

De Meulenaere also sees a shift in the age at which young people are forcibly admitted. "These days, we even receive requests to admit children under 12."

Some experts believe that the aftermath of the Covid-19 period plays a role in the increase in admissions. "Since then, we have seen a sharp increase in eating disorders, as well as emotional and obsessive-compulsive disorders," psychiatrist Daniel Neves Ramos told De Standaard.

The lack of suitable care spaces in youth care and youth psychiatry in Flanders is probably an even more important factor, experts say. ​ 



#FlandersNewsService | The playground of the Sint-Alexius psychiatric centre in Grimbergen, Flanders © BELGA PHOTO BRUNO FAHY

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